Style: Progressive Metal
Release date: 21 May, 2012
Playing time: 64:33

2011 was undisputed the year of progressive metal/rock in my opinion. The readers of PoM were blessed with many new releases from the legends and pioneers of this genre. Among those to unleash mind-blowing creations were Dream Theater, Symphony X, Opeth, Redemption, the collaboration between John Arch & Jim Matheos (Arch/Matheos) and Haken.

Will 2012 be able to top that list? It will be a close call by the end of this year. Checkout some of the prog albums released within the first 6 months this year, which includes ‘Beyond the Bridge’, the solo album by Arjen Lucassen, Suspyre, Teramaze and the almighty Headspace from UK. Maybe this album will change the outcome…

One would think that these talented musicians by the name of Mike LePond (Symphony X) and keyboard shredder Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) have a busy schedule with their main bands, but suddenly one of their side projects called Affector pops out of nowhere.

German guitar player Daniel Fries and Dutch drummer Collin Leijenaar (Neal Morse/Dilemma) are the masterminds behind this “side” project, and were able to assemble their own team of superheroes. Besides bringing on board bass player Mike and Rudess as guest on keyboards, they managed to grab the attention from vocalist Ted Leonard (Thought Chamber, Enchant, Spock’s Beard). To increase the chance for this team to succeed on their mission, three other guest keyboardists where added to the line-up, consisting of Neal Morse (Transatlantic, Flying Colors), Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater, Black Country Communion, Planet X) and Alex Argento. With such skillfully craftsmen joining forces, there should be no limit on what Affector is able to accomplish on the prog scene.

This debut release entitled “Harmagedon” is a concept art influenced by the “end of the world 2012” predictions from Nostradamus and the Mayan calendar. And the story is told by the untouched verses from the oldest book in history, The Bible. Each of the eight songs, that was handpicked to the final release, are masterfully mixed and mastered by the hands of Rich Mouser (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, Neal Morse). Rich did a tremendous work with all the sound details complementing each other on this musical journey, and the lyrics are brought to life with the perfectly written music that surrounds it beautifully.

The entire production has an epic and majestic feeling to it, created with the support from the Polish orchestra Sinfonietta Consonus. The instrumental opening song ‘Overture pt. 1: Introduction” is a perfect introduction to the story and the mesmerizing orchestral arrangements, which are always haunting in the background throughout the entire tracklist. The second track demonstrates what to expect from remaining songs. With its complex dynamic song structure, many tempo changes & odd rhythms, it will quench the thirst of most prog fans. It’s the advanced technical playing style from Dream Theater, mixed up with the melancholic universe from Fates Warning in one cocktail. One song that sticks out among the rest is ‘Cry Song’. It’s a simple, but effective rock prog ballad. It allows front man Ted to shine with his very unique, emotional and recognizable voice and tells a story, the loss of Daniels father.

The Biblical text from the other tracks will raise some eyebrows among the metal heads, but don’t be frightened. It’s performed and delivered with such passion and professionalism by these musicians, which will make your soul surrender.

My heart is fulfilled with joy and sadness at the same time. Joy, since I was honoured to review this progressive masterpiece from Affector. Sadness, if the predictions are coming true, maybe our precious world will come to an end.

So my 2 cents worth of advice to our fellow readers is, do yourself a favour, get your hands on a copy of this album and enjoy this perfectly carved diamond before Armageddon…

01. Overture pt.1: Introduction (01:49)
02. Overture pt.2: Prologue (05:35)
03. Salvation (08:48)
04. The Rapture (14:05)
05. Cry Song (05:35)
06. Falling Away & The Rise Of The Beast (08:01)
07. Harmagedon (13:00)
08. New Jerusalem (07:35)
Label: InsideOut Music
Distribution: EMI (Denmark)
Artwork rating: 85/100
Reviewed by: Tommy Skøtt
Date: 1 June, 2012